INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An NFL trainer’s laptop was stolen in Indianapolis and now thousands of player records are at risk. More than a decade’s worth of private player information was on the device, which was not encrypted. Now, the NFL team involved is stepping up its digital security.
The incident happened on April 15, just weeks after hundreds of athletes arrived in the Circle City of the NFL Combine. The NFL Player’s Associate notifying team members just last week about the potential security breach in an email, which was published by Deadspin. According to the email, the laptop contained medical exam results for NFL Combine participants from as far back at 2004. There were also some Redskins player records on the device.
The Washington Redskins confirmed to FOX59 that the laptop belonged to one of their trainers. The theft happened during a car break-in mid-morning on an Indianapolis Street. The thief reportedly broke through a window of the locked car in order to get the laptop.
“If you have a laptop bag or a suitcase, put it in your trunk,” said Sgt. Catherine Cummings from IMPD. “Please do not leave it out in plain sight where you can have someone walk by, see that you have a laptop and be interested in taking your laptop.”
The NFL team says they are working with IMPD in this investigation. They are also analyzing the digital security protocol.
The Washington Redskins sent FOX59 a statement, saying in part:
“The team is also taking steps to prevent future incidents of this nature, including by encrypting all laptops issued to athletic trainers and other team personnel and through enhanced security training.”
While the stolen laptop was not encrypted, it did have password protection. The NFL says they are not aware of any evidence that the records on the laptop have been made public. Still, the league is taking action.
“The club is taking all appropriate steps to notify any person whose information is potentially at risk. The theft of data involves information maintained by one club and no information maintained by any club on the NFL Electronic Medical Records system was compromised,” and NFL spokesman said.
The email sent to players mentions the NFL Players Association reached out to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about this issue. The players association is also in talks with the NFL about how the theft of the laptop may violate rules regarding storing personal data.